THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
SHAKESPEARE SANTA CRUZ
Welcome to Galicia. We’ve set our scene in north-west Spain, a region whose inhabitants are descended from the Celts. By the mid-15th century, Galicia was prosperous, decentralized and ruled by fiercely independent nobles, knights and clerics. A fine setting for Shakespeare’s tale of a headstrong lady and a raucous knight.
Of course in Galicia, as in Shakespeare’s England, a man’s children were his property and his wife was fully expected to love, honor and obey. Indeed, the basic plot of The Taming of the Shrew was a populist fable and Shakespeare did not adapt the story to undermine its basic assumptions. Still, he infused it with new dimensions, many of them embodied in the extraordinary character of Katherine Minola. Sharp-tongued, selfish and given to fits of violent rage, she is certainly a shrew. Yet she’s also more intelligent and more alive than all of the lesser mortals around her.
Along comes Petruchio, likewise an extraordinary individual with atrocious manners. The time has to come to marry and he seeks a wealthy bride. Undaunted by Kate’s reputation, he sets out simply to “tame” her. Little does he know he’s up against an equal and opposite force. Little does he anticipate how he will be challenged and changed. And though he finally triumphs in this “battle of the sexes,” it is clear that his victory comes by way of his unfair advantages as a man.
Still, despite their bad habits, bad first impressions and a courtship, wedding and honeymoon from hell, despite the patriarchal order of the day and a passel of silly people all around, Kate and Petruchio come to truly see each other. They realize how uniquely matched they are and gradually they fall in love. This is the heart of the matter; because theirs will become an authentic marriage, a marriage whose societal inequity will be transcended by mutual love and the force of Kate’s intelligence.
And so, as is often the case in Shakespeare, we encounter a person whose inner light outshines her circumstance. Through her bright eyes, and Petruchio’s, we discover the improbable birth of a true union. This is why this play is still so popular. This is what speaks to us - through laughter, irony, and warmth - across four centuries.
“Director Edward Morgan has made Shrew laugh-out-loud funny again; in fact, this may be the most purely entertaining take on Taming of the Shrew you ever see.”
“This production of The Taming of the Shrew is certainly the best I’ve ever seen. It may also be the best Shakespeare Santa Cruz show I’ve ever seen, period.”
– Chancellor Blumenthal, UCSC
“(An) excellent, accessible, superbly acted and genuinely funny production...Morgan wisely makes use of Shakespeare’s induction to the play to frame the action as merely the dream of a drunkard, Christopher Sly.”
– The Seventh Row, Bay Area Theatre - Top Pick
“Director Edward Morgan wisely keeps the emphasis on laughter, so that the lusty romantic coupling at the play’s core sneaks up on the audience by stealth, then explodes in all its heartfelt complexity...Aresenault’s jaunty Petruchio reacts to Kate’s (final) speech not with a victor’s smugness, but with astonished awe...and we see in their final embrace the birth of a genuine love match that warms the audience all the way home.”
– Good Times: Santa Cruz Arts,
Entertainment & Lifestyles
“The new production mounted by Shakespeare Santa Cruz brings together life, love, merriment and all things matrimonial in a fresh and delightful way.”
– Santa Cruz Sentinel
“A recurrent pattern in Shakespeare’s comedies, what Northrop Frye called the “Green World” comedies, is a journey from the “normal world,” into an alternate (often somewhat mystical) place engendering a metamorphosis...and then a return to a now renewed original location. We see this pattern in As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve never thought of The Taming of the Shrew as a “Green World” comedy, but Edward Morgan’s production for Shakespeare Santa Cruz treats it as one and by doing so reveals interesting new aspects of the play, while taming it’s great, central challenge.”
– Shakespeare’s Tribe
“Morgan succeeds at reminding us why it’s still a relevant play, and a great way to spend an evening.”
– The Stanford Daily, Stanford CA
Lights: Peter West
Costumes: B. Modern
Set: Michael Ganio
Sound: Ryan J. Gastelum
Choreography: MaryBeth Cavanaugh
Fight Director: Gregory Hoffman